In the past three years, a new type of book marketing has emerged using internet bots which has indie authors buzzing. Now bots have been around for years, but they were only available to those who understood coding or had deep pockets to hire someone else who did. Today, I want to explain the possibilities as well as the pitfalls of this new marketing tool. But before we move on, let me explain what a bot is…
According to Techopedia, an internet bot is piece of software that is programmed to do automated tasks on the internet. This can include things like; answering questions, collecting data, selling products, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. In an article from the Atlantic, it was estimated that more than half of all internet traffic now consists of bots. So you’ve most likely encounter one either on social media or at a major retailer’s site. Internet bots can be a life saver for small businesses, because they save both time and money. Imagine having a bot greet a person who just signed up for your email list right on your website, or who answers questions on social media. Now let’s take it a step further, image a bot conducting a giveaway or doing deep research on your behalf. Neat, huh? Well that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this type of technology.
The Publishing Industry Is Already Onboard
Last year, Harper Collins launched its own Epicreads chatbot for teens on Facebook Messenger, they also have another bot called, Book Genie both bots offer book suggestions to readers.
The traditional publishers aren’t the only ones getting onboard with social media bots, indie author Nick Stephenson, has a bot of his own on Messenger as well. His bot alerts you to new articles and free video training.
On the Self-Publishing Formula podcast, host James Blatch spoke with indie author Kerry Gardiner, who gave examples of how authors are using bots in order to;
- Build up their email lists
- Increase their social media following
- Ask for reviews
- Create choose your adventures for readers
She has a bot of her own which she created for her website called, BookBotBob. On the site readers choose whether they want a free or discounted book. Once the choice is made, the bot eventually moves the conversation over to Facebook Messenger.
Kerry also has a course in which she teaches indie authors the in’s and out’s of creating a bot for Messenger. (Not affiliated.)
The Pitfalls of Automating Your Marketing: A Warning
There are numerous stories of people who have used bots to automate their marketing and failed miserably. The results include situations where bots spouted inappropriate gibberish at random people, to bots that got social media accounts deactivated for violating terms of service. Remember, before creating your bot for a social media site learn about the rules because bots need to be approved before they can deployed on any site. For example, did you know that on Facebook Messenger, promotional content is allowed for standard messaging but not allowed for subscription messaging? Strange, huh? To learn more, check out more about Facebook’s rules and regulations for developers here.
How To Create Your Own DIY Bot
Believe it or not, it’s not that hard to learn how to create a bot, because these days you don’t even have to know how to code to do it. There are several services also that will allow you to create a basic bot for free (restrictions apply). The service that lots indie authors are going gaga over is ManyChat because it’s a free site and easy to use.
Here are just a small list of resources which can help you to design your own bot:
If You’re Not Technically Inclined
If you aren’t technically gifted, you can always find someone to do the job for you. Below, I’ve list several websites where you can find a freelance chatbot developer.
Marketing experts believe that bots are here to stay but there are others who believe that AI devices like voice assistants are the future, and will make bots obsolete very soon. Personally, I can’t say what the future holds but if bots can help make our lives easier now then why not use them? They are much cheaper than hiring an assistant and they don’t need rest nor do they give you (the boss), attitude. If you’re an overwhelmed author who can’t find the time for things like social media or email marketing then bots may be the answer for you.
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